“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;
but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1 – 4)
The day I sat down to write this, I was very tired. Very, very tired. It has been a long day and a long week. And I am not sure how well I can write to this passage. But I am determined to try.
“As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.” (Verse 5)
Well, at least the passage and I have something in common. I am drowsy and am looking forward to sleep. But I also know that there things I need to accomplish before I end my day. While not as wise as the wise brides, but not as foolish as the foolish – I have tried to make preparations so that I can complete my day, and the tasks that need doing will be done.
“But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.” (Verses 6 – 7)
I appreciate that the wise bridesmaids as well as foolish ones feel asleep and were caught unaware by the arrival/return of the bridegroom.
“The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.” (Verses 8 – 10)
I would, if I were more awake and time was not passing along faster than I would hope for, look up ancient Jewish wedding customs. And find out what the norm and background was for wedding events. The listeners of Jesus obviously knew, however, since Jesus used this parable. The biblical commentators also might know, but I do not know if I have the patience for their rambling conjectures.
“Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Verses 11-13)
What I take away from this is that being wise sometimes means being present and ready for a situation. The foolish bridesmaids did not think through the possibilities, such as the bridegroom being late nor making sure that things were ready for him as well as themselves. I also think about the space and amount of time between when Jesus walked the earth and now. If, as the biblical commentators would suspect, Jesus is the Bridegroom then all of us in the present time are waiting – the foolish and the wise. Has society “fallen asleep” not having their lamps (read “lives”) ready for when Jesus returns? And if not ready, already having an awareness of how to live a authentic Christian life, will they be “unknown” to Jesus and the Lord God?
I want you to know, beloved reader, I am not confusing human fatigue with being unready for the coming of the Divine. I assume that you realize that already. But, when we forget how to treat other members of humanity; when we become neglectful of the needs of others; when we allow our own selfish agendas to push away Christian living – we have “fallen asleep”. When Christ and the Divine comes, there will actually be no time to run off and refresh our living. It will be too late. The banquet hall will be closed, and no knocking will open it. This is wisdom, beloved reader. And I hope and pray that you will heed it. Shalom & Selah!